Join Me For An Inspiring Conversation With Conservation Photographer Cristina Mittermeier – June 29 8 EST
Erika Funke (WVIA NPR PBS) lead an inspiring discussion, including curator Heather Sincavage (Sordoni Art Gallery), about my exhibit Landscapes Within Landscapes at Wilkes University on display through May 13.
“In this episode (Beyond The Lens), Richard ventured into the mind of William Neill to find out what inspires him, what gives his work such emotional depth, his passions, persistence and creativity, and more. William touches upon his time working in American landscape photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams’ gallery, sharing what inspired him to photograph Yosemite. He explains why he puts experiencing a place above the results.”
Learn more about William Neill here.
Read a quick Q&A with William Neill here.
Decades ago, my friend Jeff Schewe asked me, “We both know how to do a lot of things to our images but how do you decide what to do to your images?” My response surprised him, “Talk with them.” Let me expand on that for you, as I did for him so many years ago.
We often deepen our relationship with other people by having a conversation with them. We can do the same with images. Even though they don’t speak, we can speak for them. There are many ways to do this.
Before I go into more detail, let me offer you a crucial piece of advice. Make sure you write this stuff down as you go. You won’t be able to remember everything you come up with and the act of writing will allow you to come back to it and pick up where you left off, help you find more insights, forge deeper connections, and increase the chances that you’ll act on it. All of these benefits happen more strongly when you write by hand but that’s slower and not as easily retrieved, so more often than not, I use the notes app on my phone, which can be accessed from any of my devices. I recommend you try many ways of taking notes to determine which ways work better for you.
Conversations start with questions. Ask a lot of questions. Then answer them as if you were the image. Write that down.
Conversations start with questions. Ask a lot of questions. Ask way more questions than you ever thought to ask. I usually set my goal at 100. Why? The goal of this exercise is to get beyond the obvious and the conventional. Sure, ask those questions too but go well beyond them. Ask the kinds of “crazy” questions kids ask. (What does this image eat?) Pretend you’re someone or something else and ask the questions he/she/they/it might ask. (If you’re the frame … Who put these things in me? And why did they put me here?) Imagine you are the work of art and ask the questions it would ask if it could. (What do I have to do to stay out of that closet?) The skill of asking more questions gets easier if you simply rephrase the same question in different ways to get different perspectives. Change the w word – who, what, when, why, where, how. (What is this about? How does it go about it? Who goes there?) Reverse questions; ask the opposite question. (Why is it lower? Why isn’t it lower? Why isn’t it higher?) Or, add not to any question. (Is it dark? Is it not dark?) Once you have your list of questions scan it for patterns. What kinds of questions did you ask? What did you ask questions about most frequently? What questions stand out as most interesting? Asking questions may be all you need to do to find useful insights. Answers are optional. I recommend hypothesizing what they are and to look for opportunities to answer a single question in more than one way. Remember, write it down. You can revisit your list later and you’ll most likely have a different perspective with different outcomes. You can also repurpose many of the questions in your list to use with other images. This is a skill that gets easier over time. Make asking a lot of questions a habit.
Imagine that you’re the image.
If I were you, what would I do?
If I were you, what would I feel?
If I were you, what would I want?
If I were you, what would I think?
(You can expand these questions by adding “about ___” at the end and filling in the blank.)
Walk a mile in your mind with your images. Just treating your images as if they are sentient creatures will instantly make you feel more connected to them, which will show in your final results, and people who see your images will be drawn closer to them because of that quality.
I recommend you do this more than once at different times. Your moods, influences, and perspectives are constantly shifting, sometimes only a little, sometimes a lot. In fact, practicing these internal conversations is one way of proactively influencing your internal flow. (And yes, we all have a mind-body connection.)
Let’s talk about you. When you look at an image …
What emotions do you feel? What’s the mix?
How does your body feel when you look at it? Where?
What memories does it bring up? What’s the connection?
What other images do you think are related to it? Why?
What other things does it remind you of?
What single words and phrases would you use to describe it?
Make a list of nouns. What is it of?
Make a list of verbs. What is it doing?
Make a list of adjectives. What qualities do the things and actions possess?
In these kinds of … call them exercises or studies or research sessions … it’s supremely important not to judge or censor yourself. This will stunt the growth of this process, your growth. Write it all down. Nothing is too ridiculous. In fact, if you don’t let a good dose of that irrational stuff out you won’t find as much magic. For the moment, stop making sense. Make sensitivity. Let your inner child out to play with wild abandon. You can clean up your room later.
Ask why five times.
Receive this ebook free. 26 images – 26 quotes
Two Generations In Conversation, an afternoon with father Paul Caponigro and son John Paul Caponigro cohosted by Maine Media Workshops. During this captivating hour, the Caponigros, after a brief viewing of images, will share their thoughts about the soul of photography, the joys of printing, and how the two are related. Then we’ll finish our program with a lively question and answer session open to all participants.
Enjoy this shorter video as either an appetizer or a dessert.
Over The Threshold – A Conversation On Creativity With John Paul Caponigro and Sean Kernan
During this inspiring hour, John Paul and Sean share images, thoughts, and provocations for themselves and viewers. A lively question and answer session brings this free program to completion.
At some point, all photographers sense their best and truest work lies at a point somewhere out beyond the threshold of their comfort. The question then becomes how to get there.
John Paul Caponigro and Sean Kernan, long-time friends, approach creativity in different ways, but they both head for the same transformative experience. During this conversation, they share personal stories of moments that changed their art and their lives. Meditation, playing music, acting, drawing, and writing are just a few of the practices they use to make room for the revelations that improvisation brings. They offer insights into moving beyond habitual practices and making space for the unknown, which is where the magic of the creative process happens.
Read Sean Kernan’s quick Q&A here.
Read our conversation for Camera Arts here.
View more video with Sean Kernan here.
View more Creativity Continues events at The Santa Fe Workshops.
Enjoy my conversation with Ron Clifford on the creative process.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.
In this freewheeling conversation I range widely through my life in photography, my influences, and my projects (in particular what I’ve been doing during quarantine). Seth Resnick, Jeff Schewe, and Michael Newler pipe in profusely. Seth embarrasses me with whacky candids at the end.
Find past Cornicello conversations here.
Find upcoming Cornicello conversations here.
Sean Duggan and I discuss the benefits of becoming more aware of your creative process.
Find out more about Sean Duggan here.
Find more Photographers On Photography resources here.
Catch us both at Foto Clave this weekend.
Milton Esterow presents Ansel Adam’s last interview.
Read it here.
Read my conversations with photographers here.